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J Bacteriol. 1992 Nov;174(21):6717-28.

Identification of Bacillus subtilis genes for septum placement and shape determination.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


The Bacillus subtilis divIVB1 mutation causes aberrant positioning of the septum during cell division, resulting in the formation of small, anucleate cells known as minicells. We report the cloning of the wild-type allele of divIVB1 and show that the mutation lies within a stretch of DNA containing two open reading frames whose predicted products are in part homologous to the products of the Escherichia coli minicell genes minC and minD. Just upstream of minC and minD, and in the same orientation, are three genes whose products are homologous to the products of the E. coli shape-determining genes mreB, mreC, and mreD. The B. subtilis mreB, mreC, and mreD genes are the site of a conditional mutation (rodB1) that causes the production of aberrantly shaped cells under restrictive conditions. Northern (RNA) hybridization experiments and disruption experiments based on the use of integrational plasmids indicate that the mre and min genes constitute a five-cistron operon. The possible involvement of min gene products in the switch from medial to polar placement of the septum during sporulation is discussed.

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